behind the scenes

work in progress | beauty lookbook

Sometimes I feel like I am flooding this blog and my social media with new work and other updates. Other times, I get so wrapped up in the early or mid-stages of a bunch of projects that I suddenly realize I haven't shared anything in ages. During these cold winter months, when I have a wee respite from shooting, this is my time to dream up ideas and nurture the early stages of new work. In an effort to break the silence during the quieter times of year, I'm introducing a new series called "Work in progress," where I'll share yet-to-be finished projects and other things I'm in the middle of doing.

For this first post, here are some images from a shoot I recently did with my friend, Jenna. If you look at the photos from left to right, you may notice that her eye makeup grows increasingly more dramatic. This will be part of the eye makeup intensity guide from my Beauty Lookbook.


I've been working on this lookbook for over two years now, as it's not an urgent project so I only get to work on it when I have free time. I'm determined to finish it up this spring, however, so I'm shooting the final images and wrapping up the writing. The purpose of these images is to give clients a point of reference they can use to describe to me how intense they'd like their eye makeup. Does it seem a bit much to do a whole shoot just based on eye makeup? Maybe. But all my new initiatives are based on streamlining communication so I can better serve my clients, and that means developing custom tools and guides. Anything that presents something highly subjective (e.g. a smoky eye look) in a clear and objective way helps bridge the gap between a client and makeup artist's interpretations. Crystal clear communication is a beautiful thing!

I'm working on a bunch of other things behind the scenes right now, but I'll save those for future posts. Special thanks to Jenna for modelling!

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the feeling of fragrance | lavender

It's time for the next edition of my The Feeling of Fragrance series, where I show you the final image that was included in my collection, then share some other options and talk about the stories behind the images. Today I'm sharing shots from my "Lavender" portrait. Here is the image from the show: 


Although it's often associated with the home and known for its relaxation and sleep-inducing properties, lavender has always seemed exotic to me. I don't think I really encountered its intoxicating fragrance until I was a teenager, but upon discovering it, I was enchanted. Lavender is gorgeous in bouquets but truly at its most photogenic in its natural habitat, the fields in which it is cultivated. When I decided to feature it as a scent in this project, I knew I wanted to shoot on a lavender farm but I had no idea where to begin looking. Thankfully, my friends at The Event Room pointed me in the right direction. Timing was tricky, as I had to plan the shoot for when either the farm's French or English lavender was at peak bloom. Once I'd pinpointed the week the owners assured me the colours would be at their most vibrant, I began looking for a model.


My brother's girlfriend, Ida, had just returned from Sweden and she and my brother were thankfully free to help me at the right time.

These images were shot in September 2014 in Hamilton, Ontario. Special thanks to Jon for taking the above behind the scenes shots, even when it meant lurking in the lavender (see below). I found a gauzy, casual dress in the perfect shade of lavender. I kept her hair loose for some images, and braided it in a simple side braid for others. In terms of makeup, I really just used some simple highlighting cream and blush, dusted her lids with a sheer lavender shadow and added a stain to her lips. Natural and so pretty.


Thanks so much to Ida and Jon for all their help with this portrait!



Here are the rest of the images:




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behind the scenes of my 2014 wedding season

As of a few hours ago, I delivered my final images to clients and models, which means I'm just about ready to go on vacation for the holidays! I thought it would be fun to begin to wrap up 2014 by sharing some of my favourite moments from this past wedding season. These photos were taken during in-between moments by me and my second shooters and assistants. Looking back through them made me feel overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness in the best possible way for everything that transpired this year. To everyone in the images, thank you.

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My season began in the spring with the wedding of Alison and Jason in Kingston, ON. Their day was an intimate family affair complete with a private tea party for the couple and their little ones. I love the middle image where Alison and I are having some kind of heart-to-heart.



Later that month, I crashed the Toronto City Hall wedding of my sweet friends Courtney and Kemp. They were married on the new moon in June, and later celebrated with a wider circle of family and friends in September before moving to the US for a spell.

In July, Brian and I flew out west to document and attend the wedding of our friends Jenn and Ian. They were married at a gorgeous resort in Golden, BC, and exchanged their vows while overlooking a mountain valley. In the three images below, Brian is acting as a stand-in as I tested out various portrait locations the day before the wedding.

A quick snap of me doing Jenn's hair on the morning of her big day.

Photographing details at their reception.

Photographing groups. In the image on the right, I suggested the bride and room and wedding party close their eyes to escape the sun while I adjusted my settings.

Later in July, we photographed the stunning wedding of Lesley & Graeme at Cambium Farms.

The bride made the lovely place settings you can see in the photo below. Mine now sits on my vanity holding bobby pints. Thanks, Lesley!

More lighting tests and climbing into lofts at their reception:

In August, I was lucky to have not one but three assistants for Lisha and Baden's wedding at Cobble Beach, as several members of my family were present as guests. My dad helped me out by holding umbrellas over me while I stood in the rain to photograph groups, then came along during portraits of the bride and groom as well. My mom and brother helped me carry my bags and hold my lenses throughout the day as well.

Marvelling at Lisha's 5" heels and how she wore them all day in the rain with such grace!

Then we headed to Trenton, ON to photograph the wedding of our friend Peter's mother, Jennifer, to her sweetheart, Bryan

Caught instagramming during a break in the festivities

That one time I had to chase a very enthusiastic guest to get my camera back...

When September arrived, it was time for the wedding of my badass friend Amy and her man Derek at their Cave Springs and Inn on the Twenty Wedding. Don't let that sweet face fool you, this girl is one of the toughest ladies I know!

Then I headed to Montreal to photograph Amanda and Kory's big day. I adored these two and their multigenerational love story.


Explaining the game plan for their First Look to Kory


Posting a photo to Instagram for the couple :)



I was so thankful to have Lisa Griffiths by my side on this day. She is an incredibly kind and supportive friend in addition to being a kickass photographer. You can see her below, fluffing Amanda's dress.




The following weekend, we travelled to Ottawa to photograph Jenna and Phil's spectacular wedding at the Canadian Museum of Nature.


Testing out the pretty photo booth

When October rolled around, we returned to my teenage home in Burlington to document the epic day of Aarti and Bhavesh. I've been friends with Aarti since grade nine, so it was amazing to see her entire family throughout the festivities. Aarti and her sisters lent me (and many other guests) clothing to wear, which was awesome. After she and her sisters agreed that a pale yellow sari was not the best colour for me, we decided I would dye it to a more flattering shade. Two packages of "flamingo pink" dye later and it was good to go!

(Above) That time I was pulled into the dance circle while wearing my lens bag :)

In November, it was time for my final wedding of 2014. Jackie and Geoff are honourary family members, so I could think of no better way to finish the year!

Brian handing out bouquets to the appropriate people while I get ready to photograph family portraits.

Sometimes we get to play chauffeur on wedding days

I'll close with this final photo of me doing the Elaine dance (Seinfeld fans will hopefully get the reference) taken without my knowledge by someone in my family after I was finished with my photography duties for the night. I was really into it, by the looks of things.

Thank you so much to all the wonderful couples who invited me and my various second shooters and assistants to spend your special days with you. You all mean the world to me!

behind the scenes: toronto flower market styled shoot

It's been a while since I've shared a behind the scenes post, so I'm quite happy to show you a glimpse behind my recent shoot with the Toronto Flower Market. To see the official images, you can see my blog post, or check out the post on weddingbells.ca on inventive new ways to work flowers into your wedding. But behind every polished final image is a whole lot of planning and sweat, and the stories of how a picture came to life can be so interesting. Let me tell you a bit about our creative team's adventure on the day of our shoot.

Before the shoot, we visited the site to choose locations for the different photos. Location scouting for an editorial shoot is key, as it saves valuable time on the day itself. Thanks to the scouting and test photos, art director/stylist Jenny Boucher and I had already visualized this shot beforehand:



On the day of the shoot, I noticed a grove of trees with some pretty flowers that would make a nice backdrop for one of the gowns. From left to right: my test shot, Toronto Flower Market founder Natasa Kajganic kindly posing as a stand-in, and the final shot with our model, Alice.



We were lucky to have Holcim Waterfront Estate as our location — a dream spot to shoot. When we arrived, the entire landscape was cloaked in fog, which created a surreal effect. I was happy with that, however the weather forecast and gathering clouds seemed a bit more ominous.



Minutes before we were due to start shooting, the skies opened up and the downpour began. It was some of the heaviest rain I've seen! Luckily, we were getting ready in the comfort of the estate's event tent.

Linnea of b&m models, one of our bridesmaids, kept the mood light.

As the storm intensified, creative director Natalie Petozzi and my assistant Karly Boileau battened down the hatches. Thankfully our producers were extremely well prepared and had packed numerous umbrellas and a tarp. 

We headed out into the pouring rain to begin shooting the first looks. Thank you to Jill, Jenny and Karly who took turns shielding me and my gear.

The usually clear waters had turned a bit muddy from the heavy downpour.

The creative team prepped the floral garland before putting our models in place.

Our models stood with umbrellas until the last possible second, then stood boldly in the rain.

We all got seriously soaked. It was fun.

Garment, hair and makeup changes back in the tent in between looks.

Prepping for our petal drop:

Florist Jill of The Rose Mint and Jenny Boucher assembled and style our bride's wrist corsage.

They also beautifully decorated Cake & Loaf Bakery's cake with local blooms:


Left: Jenny and Jill putting the finishing touches on this amazing floral crown. Right: the resulting image:


Left: all the & For Love gowns, hanging safely in the carriage house. Right: Alice keeping her gown dry.

Left: Natasa prepping Alice's gown, and the final image:


Below: Natalie and our venue liaison, Marisa, helping out behind the scenes of these images:


Towards the end of our day, the clouds dissipated and the sun warmed our shivering bodies.

We were visited by several blue herons and a deer during our shoot, which made the location feel even more magical!


After we wrapped, we all gathered behind the estate for a group photo:


Thank you so much for everyone who took part in this shoot for dealing with whatever nature gave us and being so cool and composed throughout. From left to right, above: Jill, Jenny, Natasa, Natalie, Marisa, Alyson Kelly (production assistant), Karly, yours truly.